Being an entrepreneur is not easy and definitely not for the weak minded or soft willed. The self-employment journey is one filled with challenges and obstacles and you have to be very mentally strong to truly thrive.
On top of the normal daily challenges, add on an underlying feeling of anxiety and depression, and the journey is much more difficult, if not almost impossible. But I know it’s possible, because I’ve done it. I suffer from depression and anxiety and have for years. A lot of people do, just about everyone I feel like anymore, but people don’t talk about it too much. It’s not impossible to overcome the symptoms and run a truly successful business despite the challenges. I want to share some of my tips with you in case you’re in a similar situation. I hope you enjoy and learn something new!
1. Communication is key
As someone who deals with anxiety and depression, I often find myself thinking in terms of worse case scenarios constantly. The antidote to this is communication! Be sure your clients know exactly what is going on so there’s no guesswork on either side. Be open with your clients about what’s going on. Most of your clients will give you grace and understand. It’s always better to over communicate than say nothing at all, believe me!
2. Get outside
It’s so easy to just sit at home on your computer, working away day and night and never stepping a single foot outdoors. And it’s almost always necessary when you’re just starting out in your business! But even if you’re completely swamped, because let’s face it, WE ALL ARE, you have to take 5-10 minutes and go outside and get some sun on your skin! Studies show just 10 minutes of sun can improve your overall mood, health, and wellbeing! So go sit out back with a nice cold drink and soak it in baby! Thank me later 🙂
3. Move your body
Sitting at a desk all day can really take a toll on your health and overall well being. Make it a point to just move your body for 15-30 minutes a day. Go for a walk. Stretch outside in the sun. Do a quick yoga video. Whatever you gotta do to just MOVE. You’ll feel really good about yourself and your body will thank you by giving you more energy to tackle your to do list.
4. Take your vitamins
Since I’ve been a full time business owner, I’ve gotten really into natural supplements. Since adderall or ritalin is so controversial and can make permanent changes to your brain, I’ve researched natural ways to treat my attention and motivation problems. Now, I’m not diagnosed with ADD or ADHD or anything, but I’m pretty sure I’ve got one of the two. I just know I’d rather use something natural to help give my brain the boost it needs to stay on track and on target. I take L-Tyrosine and Rhodiola before I have breakfast to keep me focused and motivated throughout the day. I also take L-Theanine with my morning coffee and a daily multivitamin. Edit: I do actually have ADHD and Adderall has been the best thing for me and the way my crazy brain works!
I’m the type of designer who can stay up for 36 hours straight working on a project. And sometimes, I prefer doing that because I get in such a focused zone that I can’t stop working until it’s 100% done and totally pixel-perfect. But the thing is, this really throws off my whole week! It destroys my sleep routine completely and wipes me out for a few days, which is why I try to avoid any overnighters anymore. I’ve learned recently that this isn’t good and I’ve tried my best to get a solid 7-8 hours of sleep every night. I also try my best to stick to a somewhat regular sleep cycle. Bed by 11pm or midnight seems to be my ideal sleep time, then I’m up by 7 or 8 and ready to kick start my day so I can give my all to my design projects.
6. Keep up with friends and family
It can feel like we’re on an island sometimes, working for ourselves, by ourselves, so it’s really important to stay connected to those you love. I have daily chats with my mom and sister and I love texting with my girlfriends about our favorite TV shows. Make sure to not become a hermit and shoot people a text when you’re thinking of them. They’ll appreciate it and you’ll feel good chatting with them!
7. Join a community
I am in quite a few designer groups on Facebook and it’s such a great way to stay connected to the designer community. I recommend joining a few online communities in your niche to stay on top of trends. It’s also such a great place to make friends, network, and sometimes even book future clients! I’ve developed quite a few partnerships with other designers over the years from these groups, and I’m so thankful for them!
8. Give yourself some grace!
Us entrepreneurs are SO HARD ON OURSELVES. And I think it’s because we KNOW we can do it all, so when we fail to live up to our own high expectations we beat ourselves up. This is an inner battle that is hard to win. So give yourself some grace already! Yes, we can do it all, but we can’t do it all ALL THE TIME. Take time to yourself and do things that aren’t related to your business. Read a book in bed for a few hours. Go and watch your favorite TV show for a bit. Write in your journal. You know you’re working hard, so don’t beat yourself up for not doing the impossible. Because we both know, what’s on your to do list for today might just be a bit too much. And that brings me to #9…
9. Plan your day prepared for distractions
The times when I am most stressed and overwhelmed is when I’ve put too much on my own plate. This is TRULY a recipe for disaster and can have such a negative impact on your business. Believe me, I’ve done it time and time again and I didn’t learn my lesson really until recently. But the lesson here is this: Be super realistic about what can be accomplished in the 24 hours God has given you. Statistically, we have about 6 hours of really focused work time in us per day so plan for that! I like to use time blocks. I put my tasks in time blocks of 2 or 4 hour increments. If it can’t be done in the blocks I have available, it has to get moved to the next day. Granted, right now I’m working either 10 or 12 hours a day, broken up into blocks. I have two 2 hour blocks and 2 four hour blocks. I know this will decrease as time goes on, but at this stage of my business I have really big goals and I’m trying to squeeze as many work hours out of my days as I can. Ideally, I’d like to stay around 6-8 hours of focused work time per day. And if you think about it, that’s still more work hours than people who have a normal 8-5 job! I definitely work more now that I ever did in the corporate world, but it’s so worth it!
10. Make your workspace comfy and friendly!
Since we’re spending so much time at our desks, or in our offices, make it a point to make this space somewhere you actually want to be. Go buy yourself some nice little decorations, a cute notebook, a fancy pen, some faux succulents. Invest in a really good office chair. This will allow you to work longer and harder since you won’t be in pain! And a nice lamp goes a long way too. Lighting is so essential to feeling awake and alert, especially if you work in the evenings. Low lighting will make you feel tired and your bed or couch will start calling your name.
These are my best tips for overcoming anxiety and depression as an entrepreneur. It’s not an easy road, and it comes with a million challenges, but in the end it’s always worth it. Keep your chin up, make a plan for yourself, create a routine and do your best to stick to it. Nobody is perfect, so give yourself some grace and free space within your days. Don’t forget to spend time taking care of yourself because really, no one else is going to but you. As an entrepreneur our brains and bodies have to be well oiled machines if we’re going to accomplish all of the things we need and want to do. So be sure to take care of them both!
I hope you found some value in this article, and if you did I’d love to hear your thoughts! Comment below if you have some tips for me or some insight into anything I’ve said. Now go out and conquer the world! You know you can!